Tina Marie Coria is running to represent district II on the Henry County Board of Commissioners. She faces incumbent Dee Clemmons and challenger Devlin Cleveland in the May 19 primary.
From her campaign press release, she is a lifelong democrat with a lifetime of public service and a rich reputation as a bipartisan who has an extensive background in legislative and governmental affairs. She has previously worked for the former Secretary of Treasury, US Senator Lloyd Bentsen and the former Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, US Senator Sam Nunn as well as serving as Director of Intergovernmental Relations for former Governor and US Senator Zell Miller.
Moving Henry Forward had the opportunity to sit down with Coria at Fortson Library in Hampton and interview her. Here’s our discussion.
Question: What do you see as the biggest issue facing Henry County today, and what steps would you take to improve it?
Answer: Sex trafficking. I will work with federal, state and local law enforcement and our citizens to fix the problem.
The other crucial problem I see facing us is our schools. They have declined instead of being strengthened. We are taking away resources and the things they need. If we don’t start strengthening our public education, Henry County is not going to be a desirable place to live. My goal is to make it desirable.
I see education and sex trafficking as the two most important issues.
Question: District II has the unique position that all four cities are represented within the district. How will you work with the cities to better the county?
Answer: The first thing I would do is a listening tour. I know most of the mayors and I have known most of the people here forever.
I think that’s been a big problem with the unincorporated county. They should not be competing with the cities and yet they think they have to get more taxes and more industry. That’s really not what their job should be.
I would work in partnership with the cities identifying what the cities need. That to me would be a priority actually above what the county needs because we are supposed to be here to serve, not to take. I feel we would get a lot more back if we make our cities number one as well.
Question: A major topic in county government has been a proposal to bond public funds to construct a convention center and 10,000 seat arena. What is your stance on this topic, and if elected, do you support bonding funds for the project?
Answer: That was the first capital improvement project and I was blown away by it. I would not support it.
Our parks need to be enhanced and need to be a priority for our citizens and our youth. Quality of life for our citizens revolves around Henry County having superior parks. The aquatic center has been on the books forever—when and how is Henry County going to finish that asset and resource for our community?
When we are doing capital improvements, which are investments in our county’s quality of life, we need to be looking at what we planned long ago for our future. For example, green belts, alternative mobility pathways, conservation initiatives, recycling and ways to promote agriculture are just as huge.
We already have Nash Farm. We have assets and I am not sure we have properly married up our assets for the best use. If I am elected, I will go to the citizens and see what they want in their community before I will support a capital improvement project.
Question: The proposed Bethlehem Road interchange on I-75 is partially located within district 2 and would alleviate traffic on highway 155 if constructed. Some board members—including the current district 2 commissioner—have voted against proceeding forward with the project. What is your position on the proposed exit?
Answer: I worked with Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater and Congressman Mac Collins back in the day to get the funding for Jonesboro Road to widen that bridge. I sit in traffic on highway 155. I’m not sure if Bethlehem Road would mitigate that or not. I am opposed to another interchange in district two.
Question: Are there any major topics I have not covered the voters should know about you?
Answer: Traffic, traffic, traffic. I like the roundabouts. I like a lot of the softer ways to deal with traffic.
Question: Finally, why should voters vote for you?
Answer: Because I care. Because I want to make a difference. If I am elected, I will be listening to the voters. I will listen to their cares for the county. I will be pushing low density re-zoning and I will be pushing urban agriculture. I think we have forgotten that Henry County was a thriving agricultural community; there’s no reason to throw that out and do warehouses. I think we have lost our vision a little bit, so if the citizens will give me the opportunity with their help and their input I am going to try and make Henry County better and not bigger.